There are currently 1,213 comments waiting in my cue for the various posts in this blog. I probably need to install some sort of spam-blocking system….
I have noticed a couple of things about this spam over the past few years. Most importantly, they have gotten significantly better. A couple years ago when I would get spam comments they would basically consist in nonsense. However, now they are more varied and elaborate, with attached names and email addresses that would look roughly legitimate to any sort of spam blocker. They have also become more frequent. Several years ago I would get only several spam messages a month, but now I get several in a day. And it isn’t as if this blog has gained any more exposure. One still must essentially google me to find it.
All this is unfortunate and sometimes prevents me from noticing comments that are from real people. Because I usually get no real comments but many spam ones in a day, I tend to ignore or forget about comments entirely. This is a symptom of the broader problem of the pollution of the internet. There are far more people with unscrupulous motives, along with their bots, prowling the internet.
Certainly the internet used to be far more wild in other respects. As the internet has become more exposed to the public there is less expectation of anonymity. Many people (myself included) used to have entirely public blogs and internet sites in which we disclosed much and did little to hide our identities. However, those sites were largely hidden from the wider world; they were hard to find and only strangers and our friends (when told about them) ever stumbled upon them. It was difficult to connect the internet site to a particular person in the real world even when there might be personal details in the writing. And there was less risk of an employer looking a person up on the internet and being able to find all kinds of private musings. Now most people are much more careful.
The privacy of the old wild internet has been replaced by something a bit trashier and nefarious. Though 15 years ago the internet was far less controlled by corporations and governments than it is today this has not prevented criminals and others who wish to do us harm from moving in. Something has certainly been lost.